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There’s a lot of misconception about interleaving. For one, some studies show that interleaving can be bad for foreign language study… but not in all cases.

The main effect of interleaving is that it:

  • Helps you make connections between related things (like particle usage and sentence structure)
  • Helps emphasize the differences between things (like similar kanji)
  • Prevents your brain from discarding desirable information when activities are performed repeatedly (like repeatedly inserting different nouns in the same sentence, such that your brain stops processing the sentence itself and starts focusing only on the inserted words).

Where interleaving has been shown to be bad for language learning is when it interrupts your ability to see the relationship between related things, like words that share a kanji, or kanji that look alike, or when you’re trying to get a feel for how a sentence pattern works (in which case you should get comfortable with the pattern before interleaving). In such cases, ‘blocking’ (i.e. the opposite of interleaving) was found to be more effective.

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